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Intelligence report: Iran, Russia attempted to interfere in 2020 election

March 16 (UPI) — Iran and Russia attempted to interfere in the United States’ 2020 presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials said in a new report released Tuesday.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Russian President Vladimir Putin approved operations to attempt to harm President Joe Biden‘s candidacy and bolster former President Donald Trump‘s re-election efforts.

Iran, on the other hand, attempted to denigrate Trump’s campaign “without directly promoting his rivals” by undermining public confidence in the U.S. elections processes and institutions.

“Foreign malign influence is an enduring challenge facing our country,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said. “These efforts by U.S. adversaries seek to exacerbate divisions and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions.

“Addressing this ongoing challenge requires a whole-of-government approach grounded in an accurate understanding of the problem, which the intelligence community, through assessments such as this one, endeavors to provide.”

In the lead-up to the November elections, intelligence officials warned China may be joining Russian and Iranian efforts to interfere in U.S. democracy, but the ODNI report said China stayed out of the election.

“China sought stability in its relationship with the United States, did not view either election outcome as being advantageous enough for China to risk getting caught meddling,” the report said.

The report released Tuesday is a declassified version of one provided to Trump, senior Executive Branch officials and Congressional leadership and intelligence oversight committees on Jan. 7, it said.

The Justice and Homeland Security Departments released their own joint report on Tuesday that broadly confirmed the ODNI report’s findings, stating they have no evidence that foreign governments “prevented voting, changed votes or disrupted the ability to tally votes or to transmit election results in a timely manner.”

It said Russian and Iranian campaigns targeting critical infrastructure did compromise the security of several networks concerning election functions but they did not affect the integrity of the vote.

Russian, Chinese, and Iranian actors also impacted security networks of U.S. political organizations, candidates and campaigns but officials said in the report that it was unclear if they sought access to foreign policy information or election operations.

“Several such actors gathered at least some information they could have released in influence operations, but ultimately we did not see any such materials deployed, modified or destroyed,” it said.

The report recommended continued improvements to physical and cyber security, assisting campaigns and election officials with assessing the risks posed by third-party vendors, fostering collaboration among the various levels of government and increasing the quantity and quality of public messaging and education.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House intelligence committee, said the report underscores Russia’s attempts to interfere in the election to support Trump and hurt Biden.

“Through proxies, Russia ran a successful intelligence operation that penetrated the former president’s inner circle,” he said in a statement. “Individuals close to the former president were targeted by agents of Russian intelligence, including Andriy Derkach and Konstantin Kilimnik, who laundered misinformation into our political system, with the intent of denigrating now-President Biden and damaging his candidacy.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said it highlights the “ongoing and persistent efforts” by the United States’ adversaries to influence its elections, stating Russia has expanded its efforts to do so.

“I believe that the intelligence community has gotten much better at detecting these efforts, and we have built better defenses against election interference,” he said in a statement. “But the problem of foreign actors trying to influence the American electorate is not going away and, given the current partisan divides in this country, may find fertile ground in which to grow in the future.”

Despite dozens of lawsuits by or on behalf of Trump seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election, intelligence and elections officials across the country have repeatedly said it was safe from interference and fraud.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency in November said it was “the most secure in American history” and there was no evidence it was compromised in any way.

“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should, too,” a statement from the agency said. “When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices, as they administer elections.”

The U.S. intelligence community and special counsel Robert Mueller said Russia attempted to interfere — mainly through an online misinformation campaign — in the 2016 election, but there’s no evidence it succeeded in doing so.

U.S. Election 2020

Balloons and signs fill the fence between Black Lives Matter Plaza and Lafayette Park near the White House on Monday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Supporters of President Donald Trump hold a demonstration to protest the election results Sunday at Beverly Gardens Park in Beverly Hills, Calif. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Trump supporters demonstrate as votes continue to be counted in a few states where the presidential race remained too close to call. Joe Biden had garnered enough Electoral College votes by Saturday to be the projected winner. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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People in Los Angeles celebrate Biden’s win. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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People in Washington, D.C., celebrate Biden’s win on Saturday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI. | License Photo

From left to right, Doug Emhoff, Harris’s husband, Harris, Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, stand onstage Saturday night in Wilmington, Del., after Biden and Harris gave their victory speeches. Pool Photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI | License Photo

Harris takes the stage, where she acknowledged the women whose work paved the way for her historic opportunity. She wore a white pantsuit, which is a symbol of women’s solidarity. Pool Photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI | License Photo

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Biden said in his speech that beating the coronavirus pandemic is a top priority. Pool Photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI | License Photo

The Bidens greet the crowd in Wilmington, Del. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Harris quoted the late congressman John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement who died this year, in her speech: “‘Democracy is not a state. It is an act.'” Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Harris enters the stage between two screens projecting the words, “The people have chosen empathy.” Pool Photo by Robert Deutsch/UPI | License Photo

People celebrate the election of Biden to the U.S. presidency on Saturday in Washington, D.C. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Harris will become the first woman elected as vice president, as well as the first person who is Black and Asian American. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Biden supporters spontaneously gathered outside the White House to celebrate his win. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

A lone supporter of holds up as sign among supporters of Trump as the president plays golf at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., on Saturday. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

People celebrate the election of Biden to the U.S. presidency on Saturday in Washington, D.C. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

While police officers keep them apart to avoid violence, supporters and opponents of Trump face off in Los Angeles as vote counting continues on Friday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Protesters hold up signs in Washington Square Park in New York City on Friday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

A man leaps and plays the violin in Times Square in New York City three days after Election Day as the vote was still being counted in several states. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Protesters hold up signs and flags in Washington Square Park at an event billed as a “Donald Trump Is Over Party.” Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Leah Sanhi, age 3, holds a sign that says “We The People Are Greater Than Fear” near the White House on Friday, as votes continue to be counted in the national presidential election. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Mia, age 7, sits atop her father’s back with a sign reading, “Trump Is Over,” as they and hundreds of others hang out at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House on Friday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

The processing of ballots continues into the evening at the Allegheny County, Pa., vote-processing warehouse in Pittsburgh on Friday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

David Voye , division manager of the Department of Administrative Services Elections Division, updates the media on the status of the ballot count in Allegheny County on Friday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Rich Fitzgerald, chief executive of Allegheny County, addresses the media on Friday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Voting machines from the 2020 elections are stored at the Allegheny County vote processing warehouse. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

A balloon in the likeness of Trump is in the background during an “Every Vote Counts” march from McPherson Square Black Lives Matter Plaza next to Lafayette Park bordering the White House on Friday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Cameras monitor the processing of ballots at the Allegheny County warehouse. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Biden supporters march in the streets near Black Lives Matter Plaza to the edge of Lafayette Park on Friday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

A bird flies past a jumbotron displaying “Count Every Vote” at McPherson Square near the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Local and foreign media reporters broadcast their standup shots on Black Lives Matter Plaza on the continuing presidential electoral votes as the count narrows to a close, near the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Reporters from all over the world were covering the election. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Trump makes a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

Trump’s notes are seen as he makes a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

Protesters hold up signs at a Count Every Vote rally in Washington Square in New York City on Wednesday night. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Votes were still being counted and with no declared winner on Wednesday night. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Biden’s remarks are shown on a monitor in the press briefing room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo by Shawn Thiew/UPI | License Photo

Protesters hold up signs at a Count Every Vote rally on Fifth Avenue in New York City on Wednesday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Though Biden had a lead over Trump, he said Wednesday he is not prepared to declare victory until all the votes are counted. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Biden supporters celebrate the forecasting of a win in Michigan in McPherson Square near the White House on Wednesday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Biden supporters celebrate the forecasting of a win in Michigan in McPherson Square. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Empty cars are seen at Biden’s election night rally site as the election results were still undecided in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Biden had a slight advantage in the national popular vote but Electoral College votes were still being counted. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Cases of ballots wait to be counted at a warehouse in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Protesters march to call attention to democracy and climate change in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Trump gestures to his guests after making a statement to the nation as his supporters look on in the East Room of the White House early Wednesday. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

A fire breaks out in Times Square as Trump makes a speech from the White House in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

As of Election Day, there were no final results in the presidential race. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Democratic nominee Joe Biden (L) and wife Jill Biden greet supporters at a parking lot in Wilmington, Del. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Biden expressed optimism and said it will take time to count the votes in critical battleground states. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

A supporter watches form a sunroof of a car during Biden’s election night rally. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Voters cast their ballots at a drive-through voting center at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Tuesday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

With up to 22 million ballots to count, California election officials will take weeks to get a final count. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Staff board up the Sofitel Hotel as customers watch results on CNN a few blocks away from the White House on election night in Washington, D.C. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Protesters gather in Black Lives Matter Plaza a block away from the White House and watch election results. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

A projection is seen on St. John’s Church at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talks to reporters about Election Day results in races for the House of Representatives, at Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. Pool Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/UPI | License Photo

On Election Day, supporters and protestors of President Donald Trump gather amid COVID-19 and a polarized political environment. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Patrons of Harry’s Restaurant watch election results in an outdoor seating area in Washington D.C. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

A man watches election coverage at Harry’s Restaurant. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Joshua Hemminger of Arlington, Va., watches election results at Harry’s Restaurant. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Washington D.C. residents casts their votes at the Marie Reed Elementary School minutes before polls closed. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

People watch as election results come in at Times Square in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Watch party goers gather at McPherson Square near the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

A Washington D.C. resident casts his vote at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus an hour before polls close. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Watch party goers gather at McPherson Square near the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Ryan Thomas reacts while watching CNN election results at McPherson Square near the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

People watch a jumbotron at a watch party in McPherson Square near the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

A porcelain “Make America Great Again” hat made by artist Connor Czora is seen shattered on the ground at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Two women pray on the ground at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Medina, Ohio residents cast their votes on election day. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

Ohio residents cast their votes while wearing masks. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

A security guard checks the temperature of a voter as she enters the building on election day at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

An Ohio voter gives his information to a worker through a plastic barrier prior to casting his votes at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

Florida residents line up at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens for COVID-19 test on Election Day. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Ohio residents cast their votes on election day in Medina, Ohio. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

Poll worker Heather Huewe wears a VOTE mask holding a “I Voted Today” sticker as she works at the Old Bonhomme School in Olivette, Mo. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Campaign workers layout social-distancing circles as they setup for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s election night rally, in Wilmington, Del. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Vehicles are parked for Biden’s election night rally. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Campaign workers unpack cones for Biden’s election night rally. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thanks her campaign team outside of her Bronx office in New York City on Election Day. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Protesters gather in Black Lives Matter Plaza a block away from the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

A voter turns in his ballot at a drop off in the Civic Center of San Francisco. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

A voter turns in his ballot at a drop off in the Civic Center of San Francisco. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

Nikara Paniagua, of Lawrenceville, Ga., drops her ballot in a dropbox at Shorty Howell Park. Photo by Tami Chappell/UPI | License Photo

A Georgia voter wears an American flag mask while voting at at Shorty Howell Park in Lawrenceville, Ga. Photo by Tami Chappell/UPI | License Photo

A Florida resident waits to deposit his voting ticket at the Miami Fire Station 2 in Miami. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Florida residents stand in the voting booths at the Miami Fire Station 2 in Miami. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

An eagle logo frames a Carroll County, Md., resident voting at Francis Scott Key High School in Union Bridge. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

Carroll County voting slowed in the early afternoon. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

Campaign workers applaud as President Donald Trump visits the Republican National Committee Annex in Arlington, Va. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

Trump speaks at the RNC Annex. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

Poll worker Khadijah Theus checks a voter’s identification at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville, Ga. Photo by Tami Chappell/UPI | License Photo

Voter access cards are sanitized at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds. Photo by Tami Chappell/UPI | License Photo

Turnout is light in the morning at the fairgrounds. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many voters cast their ballots by mail this election. Photo by Tami Chappell/UPI | License Photo

Poll workers assist Georgia residents in checking in to vote. Photo by Tami Chappell/UPI | License Photo

A Georgia resident casts a vote. Photo by Tami Chappell/UPI | License Photo

Voting stations are set and ready for Florida voters at the West Boynton Beach Library in Boynton Beach, Fla.. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Social distancing is in effect in voting lines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Residents line up to vote at the Gettysburg Fire Station in Gettysburg, Pa. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

A woman identifying herself as a Trump Victory Volunteer watches voters outside the fire station. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

A Gettysburg polling manager greets voters at the Gettysburg Fire Station polling place. Photo by David Tulis /UPI | License Photo

Frederick County, Md., residents wait in line to vote at the Urbana library in Frederick, Md., near Washington, D.C. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

Poll workers at the Frederick polling station said 66 people were in line when polls opened and expected a large turnout. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

Voters cast their ballots at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, one of 768 in-person voting centers opened throughout Los Angeles County. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

In-person voting started for most California counties last weekend as local elections officials opened polling places early to avoid crowds on Election Day. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Voters place their ballots in an official ballot drop-box in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Voters place their ballots in an official ballot drop-box in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

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